Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm so far behind I'm not going to put much effort into catching up.  But here's a summary.  Cameron had a birthday, summer vacation started, Kevin joined the cross country team, Kevin had a birthday, four day vacation to Gulf Shores, Kevin diagnosed with brain tumor (major bummer), the next day I had a birthday but didn't really feel like celebrating, summer vacation ended, Kevin had brain surgery, Cade had a birthday, Halloween and finally, Dana had a milestone birthday.  I won't say which one but it rhymes with morty.

The first weekend of summer vacation the boys and I tried riding some trails in the forest.  Different than our normal laps on an MX track but we had a good time. 

 Cameron read The Dangerous Book for Boys and got inspired to build something.  Never one to turn down an opportunity to develop a future gearhead/handyman, we went to Lowe's and bought the stuff to make his own workbench.  He used a handsaw and made the whole thing with little help from me.  Right on!
 4th of July was fun until someone called the cops on us that night.  Turns out the fireworks vendor lied and fireworks are not allowed in city limits.  We were almost finished too.  Now I'm stuck with six mortar shells just waiting to be shot.  Stupid whiners and complainers. When do I get to exercise my right to pursue happiness?
 Kevin, Cameron and I drove up to Red Bud, Michigan with a friend and his son to watch a pro motocross race.  It was 105 degrees and humid but we had a great time.  It's always impressive to see how fast those guys go on a track that rough. The boys and I were fine in the heat but a lot of others were wilting fast.

After the race, we drove over to Lake Michigan just to say we were there.  We weren't prepared to play in the water but that didn't stop Cameron and Eric from getting wet.
 Just before school started we took a mini-vacation to the Gulf.  On day one, we drove to Mobile, AL to see the USS Alabama.  If you ever get the chance to see it, do it!  I could have spent all day crawling around in that thing.
While we were wandering around in the ship, Dana started feeling overheated as we got lower and lower so she finally called it quits and told us she was heading back to the deck.  The boys and I had more exploring to do so we kept on.  Somewhere in that conversation, Kevin missed something because he started following Dana out thinking we were done.  After climbing up a level or two, he turned around to check on the rest of us.  After he realized we weren't coming, he turned back around and discovered Dana had ditched him.  She didn't know he was following her!  He eventually found her but not before stumbling around accidentally exploring new areas of the ship by himself.  Poor kid.  No one even knew he was lost!  He eventually found his way out and found Dana but it made for a good story that we all had a good laugh at.

The day after losing Kevin, we made our way over to Gulf Shores for a couple days of playing in the water.  The weather wasn't the best but we had a great time together.

Dana found a good deal on a condo on the beach so we were living in luxury!  Remember what I said about the weather?  This gorgeous sky and water showed up the day we were leaving.  Go figure.

Cute picture of the boys wishing they could go splash around some more instead of getting in the car for a 7 hour drive.
It was right after our vacation that we discovered Kevin had an epidermoid cyst in his brain that was causing difficulties with his vision.  When we were first told about it, they said he had a cancerous tumor that may or may not be treatable and then left us to wait a few days to get more details.  As you can imagine, that was absolutely devastating news that I wouldn't wish on anyone.  Kevin had his high school orientation that night so we chose to wait until after it was over to tell him.  After that, we kept him (and his brothers) in the loop on everything we knew.  Kevin did a remarkable job of handling the stress.  Dana and I had our breakdowns at times.  By the grace of God, as we learned more, the news kept getting better.  First it was treatable with chemo (scary but seemed good compared to no treatment and let it keep growing), then it wasn't a cancerous tumor at all and was indeed operable.  Many trips to Birmingham where we grew to have a huge amount of respect for UAB, many many many prayers and so much love and support from our friends and family, and finally surgery at the end of September.

First day of school.  9th grade (high school!), 6th grade and 1st grade (but not in that order).

Kevin joined the cross country team this summer and spent most of his vacation getting up early to run.  This is the start of his first meet.  We decided to say he finished first (of the second 100).  And for the record, if you're wondering how he finshed 101st out of the group shown, there are a lot more people lined up than what you can see here.

Near the end of that race.  Kevin started out too fast and was dying by the end.  But to his credit, he finished strong and kept his composure.  Cameron and I had the unfortunate opportunity to learn first hand that many racers immediately barf after crossing the finish line.  We decided not to stand by the chute at any more races.

Kevin competed in 2 more races before he had to have brain surgery to remove the cyst. We were all scared to death as the surgery approached.  Mom and Dad drove out to stay with Cameron and Cade while we were in Birmingham.  They were a huge help and really took a lot of stress off by not having to worry about those two while we were gone.  (Thanks again Mom and Dad!) We went down to UAB the day before the surgery for more tests and doctor visits then the three of us had dinner and went to see Spiderman to have some fun and get our minds off what the next day would bring.   After checking in at 5 am (ugh) the rest of the day was a blur and not because we were tired.  The last moments with Kevin before they wheeled him out for the surgery were both heart warming and heart wrenching.  Kevin was so brave as Dana and I tried unsuccessfully not to cry in front of him.  The staff was so kind and wonderful to us as they tried to ease our fears.
In the end, Kevin did great.  He was super cranky as the anesthesia wore off (just like the last time he had surgery) but we were more than willing to cut our boy some slack.  The death stares he gave everyone, especially the doctors, were kind of funny.  We spent countless hours rubbing his neck and shoulders which were knotted up and just when we thought he fell asleep and we'd slowly quit rubbing, he'd look at us and ask us to keep going.  The first night was probably the worst because he felt so bad and the guy on in the room on one side of him died and the guy on the other side was brain dead.  There's nothing quite like a little life and death action right next to your son to rattle your nerves. He kept his room in NICU at about 40 below so Dana and I nearly froze to death.  After moving to a regular room, Dana laid down the law and turned the temperature up to something livable.  Like 50 degrees or so.  Seemed downright tropical by then.
During the 3 days in the hospital, we had several visitors stop by.  Some were in the area and came to see Kevin while others drove down to Birmingham specifically to see us.  Like I said, lots of love and support.

And I can't complete this post without mentioning a conversation we overheard between Cameron and the girl next door this summer.  Cameron came stomping in the house, mad about something.  Sydney came to the door immediately after to talk to him.  Dana and I listened and learned that the two of them and another neighbor girl were throwing pickles at each other (?) and one hit Cam in the eye.  Sydney recalled the last time they were throwing pickles and Cameron hit her in the eye. Cameron deadpanned, "No, I didn't."  So Sydney responded  with, "Well, if you had I wouldn't have gotten mad about it."  I'll have to try that approach next time I have an argument with Dana.

As I write this, my belly is full from Thanksgiving leftovers.  We had a fun day yesterday with some good family time which included Dana's always awesome Thanksgiving lunch as well as our annual 3 v 2 soccer game.  We certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I hope you all had a wonderful day as well.